West Lancashire by-election: Labour’s Ashley Dalton calls for general election after comfortable win

Ashley Dalton secured a comfortable win and said it’s time for Labour take over

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Labour has comfortably held on to its seat in West Lancashire in a by-election which saw Ashley Dalton become the new MP.

Dalton was elected with a 8,326 majority over Conservative candidate Mike Prendergast, with a 10.52% swing from the Tories to Labour.

Bitterly cold conditions on polling day and the expectation of an easy Labour hold contributed to a turnout of less than 32%.

Newly-elected Dalton, who works part-time for a local charity, told the Tory party to “move out of the way” following her victory and demanded a general election, telling Prime Minister Rishi Sunak that it was time for Labour to take over.

Labour’s Ashley Dalton celebrates after being declared the winner in the West Lancashire by-election (Photo: PA)Labour’s Ashley Dalton celebrates after being declared the winner in the West Lancashire by-election (Photo: PA)
Labour’s Ashley Dalton celebrates after being declared the winner in the West Lancashire by-election (Photo: PA)

In her victory speech at Burscough Racquet and Fitness Centre, she said: “Tonight the people of West Lancashire constituency have spoke on behalf of the country.

“They have sent a message to this Conservative government. They do not have confidence in them to govern or the Prime Minister to lead.

“Prime Minister, your government has no ideas or a plan to address the big issues facing our country, like record levels of child poverty and people dying waiting for ambulances.”

She added: “These are testing times for our country. I have had hundreds of conversations with voters and I know how hard life has become and the unthinkable choices people are having to face – paying their bills or buying food.

“Rishi Sunak’s Conservatives no longer have a mandate to govern. His government has no ideas, no plan to address the big issues facing our country and the voters tonight have sent a message to the Prime Minister – your government is failing British people. Move out of the way. Let Labour take over and it’s time for a general election.”

While Veteran MP Rosie Cooper’s majority at the 2019 snap general election was similar at 8,336, that was over 36% of the vote, compared with just over 25% this time around.

It was the first time the Tory vote has dipped below 30% since the 1997 general election, which Tony Blair’s Labour party won by a landslide.

Reform UK secured 997 votes, ahead of the Liberal Democrats on 918, the Greens with 646 and the Official Monster Raving Loony Party with 210.

The ballot was held after Cooper, who represented the constituency for 17 years, accepted the role of chairwoman of the Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust.

Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour, which is enjoying a significant lead in the polls against Sunak’s Conservatives, was always confident of holding the seat.

It was the latest by-election test for Sunak since entering Downing Street last October and comes as the country grapples with the cost of living crisis, soaring inflation and a wave of industrial action across the UK.

New Tory chairman Greg Hands, who replaced the sacked Nadhim Zahawi this week, is charged with steering his party towards the local elections in May amid pressure on the Prime Minister to get his party in fighting shape ahead of the next general election in around 18 months’ time.